Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to keep the pressure on Leicester after their top-four rivals defeated Sheffield United as the battle for Champions League qualification heated up on Thursday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had no margin for error after Leicester’s 2-0 victory earlier in the day and they responded thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
United’s fifth win in their last six league games leaves them in fifth place in the Premier League.
They are level on points with fourth-placed Leicester, trailing them on goal difference, and one point behind third-placed Chelsea.
With the financial implications of failing to reach the Champions League certain to be painful for United, Solskjaer’s men will be under intense pressure in their final two league games.
After Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, United host West Ham on Wednesday before a decisive showdown at Leicester on July 26.
United could also qualify for the Champions League if they win the Europa League, which is set to resume in August.
“No one thought in January that we would be in with a shout for the top four. We have done fantastic since the restart,” Solskjaer said.
“We didn’t get the rhythm in our passing but two fantastic goals won it for us. That is the thing at Manchester United, you have to step up and show your personality.”
Rashford broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage-time when the England forward cleverly deceived two Palace defenders with a drag-back and slotted home from close range.
Palace complained vehemently that they should have been given a penalty moments earlier when Wilfried Zaha went down after contact from Victor Lindelof.
Referee Graham Scott waved away their appeals and VAR didn’t change the decision, with replays showing Lindelof got a slight touch on the ball.
Palace were denied again in the second half when Jordan Ayew’s goal was ruled out for offside by VAR.
“What’s the point in getting into it? If I said it was, they say it wasn’t, it becomes like a Christmas pantomime,” Palace boss Roy Hodgson said of the VAR controversy.
Martial killed off Palace in the 78th minute with a clinical finish after good work by Rashford.